Tag Archives: Hansen’s sno-balls

New Orleans Traditions

Shaved Ice

 

Summertime refreshment

Summertime refreshment

 

 

Shave Ice.  It all seems so simple, but it wasn’t always so.   Where elsewhere they’re all screaming for ice cream in the summer, in New Orleans we scream for snowballs-which are, of course, only possible because of shaved ice.   Very, very finely shaved ice, almost to a liquid state, melting on your tongue with a refreshing sensation.   In Baltimore, we hear, they claim they invented snowballs because they also use shaved rather than crushed ice—but it’s not as fine as ours, and here we pour not just syrup but toppings on top of that shaved ice, like condensed milk.   But it all began with the shaved ice.  Legend has it that Ernest Hansen, of the original Hansen’s Sno-Bliz now on Tchoupitoulas, invented the first block ice shaving machine in 1939; before that, the “snowballs” were made of hand-shaved ice, none too sanitary.   Ernest’s wife Mary started making her own syrups, and there we have it—something else New Orleans does better.   Apart from the Hansens’ contribution, it’s not a far stretch to connect the Sicilian immigrants to New Orleans, who knew about such treats from the old country, to the love of snowballs here.   They’re almost like gelato, really, with the delightful array of snowball flavors available—like Satsuma, or nectar cream, or frozen mint   Everyone has their favorite stand, like the venerable Hansen’s, or Plum Street Snoball uptown, or Pandora’s by City Park. read more »